The releases for any genre that come out in the first quarter of a given year are what usually set the precedent for the remaining nine months of music to be consumed. If a bunch of mediocre albums come out, the bar for quality (and expectations) is set low, and listeners won’t expect to be wowed anytime soon. But if solid albums come out within a year’s first quarter, we at least have the anticipation of more solid albums down the pike. As fortune would have it, the first quarter of 2016 has been stacked with great releases from both major label artists and those who are just now crossing our collective radar.
It seems that the first quarter of 2016 was a time for doom to shine, with excellent releases from Lycus, Inverloch, and Conan being most notable; black metal and death metal, however, also had a spree of brilliance in the first three months with the likes of Voidnaga and Ritual Chamber among others. The second quarter looks no less ambitious, with upcoming releases from Tombs, Ihsahn, Zealotry, Lord Mantis, and Grave Miasma.
One of the advantages to these quarterly lists (selfishly speaking) is that I constantly have a reference point for the trajectory of the year’s releases, and that makes it far easier to make EOY lists. (Yes, those are fighting words this time of year. Some of us are still decompressing after last year’s EOY circus.) Let’s get right to it.
Top Nine Releases: January-March 2016
9. Soon – Vol. 1
8. Meadows End – Sojourn
7. Stone Magnum – Holy Blessings to None
6. Low Flying Hawks – Kofuku
5. War Curse – Final Days
4. Ecferus – Pangaea
3. Lycus – Chasms
2. Borknagar – Winter Thrice
1. Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed
Nine Honorable Mentions:
Atrament – Eternal Downfall
The Lion’s Daughter – Existence is Horror
Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony
Megadeth – Dystopia (Yeah, you heard me. Get bent.)
Deafest – Glen & Precipice
Rorcal – Creon
There’s still plenty of time for great albums to come out this year, and as mentioned, the second quarter will have some heavy hitters. 2016 will be a good one.